The Power of Having Nothing

In Act 3, Scene 4 of King Lear, Lear finally begins to show compassion. He does this only after he is stripped of all his riches. This makes me think about the society we live in today: To successfully put yourself in another person’s shoes, do you have to physically put yourself in their situation? Sure, rich royalty can be extremely caring and kind, but to best understand those who are homeless or lower in the hierarchy of society, I think one needs to be put in their position, and from the plot of the play, I think Shakespeare would agree.

Here is an example from my life:

I went on a school ecology trip to Costa Rica a couple years ago. I was not expecting our first destination: a run down house with bed bugs, little drinking water, no air conditioning, and extreme heat. This house was owned by a hard-working Costa Rican family who graciously welcomed us and were so kind and content with life. I was very humbled by this experience because it made me realize how fortunate I was to have all of the comfortable wants that this family didn’t have. Although they had very little, they seemed like the happiest family in the world.

This brings me to another thought: Do riches determine luck and happiness? King Lear had everything he could have asked for, and yet, he always seemed stressed and unsatisfied. The family in Costa Rica had nothing but basic needs and they were completely and entirely satisfied. I would argue that too many riches can actually make a person discontented; when one has all the riches in the world, there is nothing more to work towards, disallowing you to gain something more special than what you already have.

Higher Ground

I have been listening to Stevie Wonder since I was three years old, and it has touched my soul in a way no other music has. This is the type of music that forces you to get up and dance, tugs at all of your emotions, and causes you to experience the full song in four dimesions. One of Wonder’s songs, “Higher Ground,” is especially poetic. In this song, he captures different points of view from around the world in under four minutes. Wonder begins his song by stating,

People keep on learnin’
Soldiers keep on warnin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long”

Stevie Wonder places his readers in the minds of contrasting groups by broadening our experience of the literature. He condenses words to create a meaningful whole of under five words per subject to highlight the aspects of each category that add to his theme that the world is out of our control; although people try to create a sense of power, nature is stronger than women and men. Wonder continues this pattern for another stanza:

Powers keep on lyin’, yeah
While your people keep on dyin’
World keep on turnin’
‘Cause it won’t be too long

A good poem does not state word for word what the poet is explaining, rather, the poet condenses what the speaker has experienced. By doing this, the lines become stronger and richer than facts or simple literature. This is exactly what Stevie Wonder nails in this song: he shares the reality of the world with his readers through a few powerful lines.

Wonder then goes on to explain how important it is for him to be the best person he can be. He states,

I’m so darn glad He let me try it again
‘Cause my last time on earth, I lived a whole world of sin
I’m so glad that I know more than I knew then
Gonna keep on tryin’
‘Til I reach my highest ground, whoo

Wonder shifts to speak from his perspective, condensing his words to share his point of view of the importance of growing to be a good person. This allows the reader to experience Wonder’s “higher ground” message, inspiring the reader to be the best person they can be.

Later in the song, Stevie Wonder uses the literary device of repetition to state “higher” thirteen times. By doing this, he further gets his message across. This is truly poetic, as Wonder does not blatantly state his theme, he solely needs one word to do this.

At the end of the song, Wonder offers his listeners advice, so that they can fully experience his message of growth and live it in the real world:

Don’t you let nobody take you to a low level
Just keep on and keep on until you reach higher ground
Don’t you let nobody take you to some low, low level
Just keep on and keep on until you reach higher ground

Wonder uses a few, simple words to inspire the reader, thus broadening his message and engraining it into the listener’s mind. This is a true poem. Not only does Wonder create a moving experience for his fans through lyrics, but the sound of his music draws the reader in further, and you can feel it in all four-dimensions.

We’re the Real Migrants

I never understood why certain migrants were considered dangerous and others were not. In kindergarten, I learned about Christopher Columbus, hearing from teachers and books that he was a hero. Later on in life, I realized he was actually a complete jerk who kicked the true Americans out of their homes, assaulted women, and killed many. So wasn’t Columbus the dangerous intruder?

Somehow after all of this chaos, the people who stole America began to view the original Americans as intruders. How hypocritical is that?! Why are Americans so afraid of refugees if every family in America has a background of migrants? Why are these migrants seen as dangerous when the reason American citizens are American citizens is because of an intruder who destroyed the lives of many innocent people?

In Exit West, the author, Mohsin Hamid, constructs a scene which makes the reader view migrants through the lense of terrified Americans: “The door to her closet was open. Her room was bathed in the glow of her computer charger and wireless router, but the closet doorway was dark, darker than night, a rectangle of complete darkness–the heart of darkness. And out of this darkness, a man was emerging” (8).

Later on in the story, the reader begins to understand immigration and respect Saeed and Nadia’s journey from their dangerous home to different countries.

So why are so many Americans afraid of migrants? I believe the main reason is the media. The media doesn’t have to be true, in fact, in the film “Social Dilemma,” the speaker states that the ads, pictures, videos, and posts you see on your phone are actually selected based on what you tend to watch and think about. This means that what is selected for you doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be a topic that is entertaining for you. People can find videos about the dangers of refugees and become engrossed in them even though there is no evidence supporting the information. That is how social media companies make their money.

The best way to learn about immigration is to speak to living immigrants. A couple years ago, I completed a science credit in Costa Rica. My class and I met refugees from Nicaragua. These men had lost their families and risked their lives to move to Costa Rica. Their homes were too dangerous to live in and they were wanted and threatened by their own government. This was truly an emotional experience and it helped me to understand refugees. It is not about stealing jobs in different countries or selling drugs. It is about finding a safer home. Keep in mind, these refugees had to leave their families and have no contact with them. Immigration is not something many people desire, but it is critical for many because their lives are at risk.

Christopher Columbus on the other hand….It seemed like he was the one in it for the land and money.

Love Is Not a System

The theory of existentialism is probably the most negative theory I have ever heard in my life- but it is true in many ways. Systems such as school, politics, educational goals, and fashion were created and enforced by humankind. In the end, these factors are meaningless to the universe because they are all “made up.” However, you cannot put love in the category of systems.

Love is a feeling- it is not a made up system. Sure, the word love was created by a person, but the feeling was not chosen by anyone. Love is its own emotion. It is a mix of happiness, anger, sadness, excitefulness, and can even cause physical feelings such as heartache. Love is felt by babies towards their mothers even if they have never heard the word.

I understand existentialism, and I realize that many factors in life are truly absurd. But love should not be represented in this system. It is a strong sense that most people experience at some point in their lives whether they want to or not.


When reading the short story “Good Country People,” by Flannery O’Connor, I became uneasy towards the ending; The MAN-woman binary in the excerpt clearly highlights the discrimination towards women in the real world.

In the passage, a man who claims he is selling Bibles takes advantage of Joy, a woman with a plastic leg. He steals her leg and she is unable to fight back, losing an important part of her life and regular functionality. This scene has an underlying message: many women aren’t able to use their full potential because it is taken from them with sexism; they are often seen as less than men. The loss of Joy’s leg symbolizes her inability to “get ahead” in the real world. It also highlights the fact that many women are unfairly taken advantage of and have no satisfaction of punishing the perpetrator.

Although Flannery did not specifically state this, it reminded me that the man to woman and binary is evident in society. We have a lot of work to do with many unjust binaries. This is just a very unique way of looking at the scene.

Inevitable Kill

The last line of the short story “Escape From Spiderhead” reads, “I had not killed, and I never would” (pg 81). I find this line very interesting because it was inevitable Jeff would to kill someone. He had to choose between killing himself and Rachel. Either way, the story would have a dark ending. He ended up committing suicide and sparing Rachel’s life, but he did end up killing someone-himself. It seems as if the “Spiderhead” is a murder mission. The experiments that are forced upon prisoners are extremely dangerous, and Abnesti knows that death is a possible outcome. I think it is much worse than a longer period in jail.